State of HR | The top priorities for HR in 2022, according to over 100 professionals

    The top priorities for HR in 2022, according to over 100 professionals

    Every year, team Natural HR takes to the virtual streets to uncover the views, thoughts and opinions of HR leaders from across the UK. In a fascinating annual report, we take a deep-dive into the people profession and examine the trends, challenges and priorities facing HR teams in 2022 and beyond.

    This year’s ‘State of HR’ survey looks ahead to the next 12 months and yields some fascinating insights into the profession. After a year which brought with it the ‘great resignation’ and continued surges in remote and hybrid work, 2021 was, in its own way, just as challenging as 2020 was for HR leaders.

    In this article we take a look at the three biggest HR trends topping the priority list for our people teams in 2022 and beyond.

    Improving employee engagement and experience

    The biggest priority for HR leaders in 2022 is improving employee engagement and experience (cited by 70% of respondents). The world of work isn’t the same as it was when many of our HR leaders took up their roles and the volatile nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to re-evaluate entire employee strategies on the fly.

    As remote work becomes a norm rather than an exception and we continue to live with the coronavirus, keeping employees engaged takes on a very different format. The ways in which employees express themselves as they carry out their jobs, what motivates them and the methods that foster an engaged workforce have had to change dramatically. Being physically distant from a workplace has changed the way employees look at companies, and how and where they fit into overall business goals. What’s more, some leaders may fear that remote teams are harder to manage, and communication may be difficult or break down entirely.

    In our last survey carried out while we continued to navigate lockdowns, furlough and remote work, employee health and wellbeing topped the priority list for HR teams looking ahead to 2021. At a time when the methods or advisory services recommended to employees to support their health and wellbeing in the past may not have been as readily available, HR professionals took it upon themselves to prioritise employee health and wellbeing in the wake of the coronavirus.

    Recruitment and retention of employees

    For employees, the pandemic and a surge in remote working has transformed the job market into a true candidate’s playground. Individuals are now able to apply for roles across the country (and even across the globe). As such, being able to ‘work from anywhere’ has become a key deciding factor for many seeking new opportunities.

    As such, it isn’t surprising that the recruitment and retention of employees also tops the priority list for over two-thirds (67%) of HR managers. While the pandemic caused unfortunate redundancies on a huge scale, Brexit also led to significant labour shortages across industries such as logistics, hospitality and healthcare.

    The combination of COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, and Brexit coming into effect, has seen a lot of European workers returning to their home nations — and not coming back to the UK. The UK’s new immigration rules mean that both EU nationals and those from the rest of the world must now apply to work in the UK via a new points-based system that is designed to attract workers with specific skillsets. Ultimately, HR and talent teams continue to compete fiercely for the best talent and, as a result, must develop new strategies to attract and keep that talent for the long-term.

    Employee health and wellbeing

    Back in 2020, employee health and wellbeing topped the list of priorities for the year ahead as companies continued to be measured by the way in which they treat their people during these tumultuous times. Reassuringly, this is still a priority for 64% of HR teams as savvy leaders step up to provide wraparound support for their employees throughout lockdown.

    Many may have chosen to improve existing Employee Assistance Programmes with a curated selection of resources, documentation and services that employees can access at any time. Others have re-evaluated flexible working policies to meet changing employee needs or improved benefits.

    In the past two years alone, wellbeing has expanded beyond just the physical needs of employees but now includes building a culture that is conducive to physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing, career growth, and provides a sense of community and purpose. Providing flexibility in where, when, and how your employees work to satisfy their wellbeing needs sits at the very centre of this.

    To download our 2022 State of HR report in full, in which we delve into the views, thoughts and opinions of HR leaders from across the UK and examine the trends, challenges and priorities facing HR teams in 2022 and beyond, simply click here.

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